the wire

I started watching The Wire on DVD, and am having to re-evaluate my long-held opinion that Homicide is the best TV show ever. Wire is written by the guy who wrote the book on which Homicide is based (and who was a scriptwriter for later Homicide seasons) and shares a lot of stuff with both the book and the series, and it's got to be at least as good. It's basically an extremely realistic police show (the writer, the guy discussed above, wrote his book after spending a year inside the Baltimore city homicide department, and the show steals a lot of stuff that was printed as fact in the book and, you feel, a lot of stuff that wasn't printed but is equally factual...) full of departmental fuck-ups, cover-ups, bureaucracy, politics, ass covering, ass kissing and - occasionally - police work. That's good enough, but somehow it's the other side of the show - where it covers life on a Baltimore drug corner more or less dispassionately, letting the sheer hideousness of the whole circus make its own impression - which stands out. The humorous moments work brilliantly; the opening conversation of the entire series, taken from the original Homicide book, is a conversation between a cop and a murder witness in which the witness tells the cop a guy was killed because, every week, he took the pot of the local craps game and ran. When the cop asks why they let him in the game when he always just stole the pot and ran, the witness says "this is America, man!" Apart from that, there's the corner boys, on one show discussing what happened to the guy who invented chicken mcnuggets, on the next show just lying asleep on a big red couch in the middle of their corner, surrounded by crap and dirt. But every so often you just get whacked with the massive inhumanity of the scene, the game, they all just accept as the whole background to their lives - the fucked up junkies, the endless brutality and violence. It's just an absolutely flawless show. Pick it up if you see the DVDs.


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